NFL star Cam Newton has found himself under fire. This time, it's not from a corps of hulking linebackers.
During a press conference with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton a pretty straightforward football question, specifically about the kinds of "routes" his receivers run.
Newton's response was ripped straight out of a playbook... from the 1950s.
Panthers QB Cam Newton has "expressed regret" for his response to a female reporter's question… https://t.co/NH6ClFEjyp— #NBC7 San Diego (@#NBC7 San Diego) 1507213811.0
"It's funny to hear a female talk about routes," he said with a condescending grin. "Like... it's funny."
Rodrigue didn't think it was very funny and shared her disappointment with Newton's response on Twitter.
In 2017, you'd think the novelty of women working in sports and sports media would have worn off and that they'd get, oh, a little respect.
Some of the top names in the biz are women. Erin Andrews, Andrea Kramer, Michele Tafoya — those are just a few highly respected names when it comes to reporting football news. The owner of the Chicago Bears is a woman. Monday Night Football was called by a woman announcer for the first time ever this year.
Heck, there are women on NFL coaching staffs.
Yet outdated attitudes persist, and you had better believe if a woman reaches that level of success in sports despite the bias, she is at least as qualified as any male colleague. Sports is not a "man's world," nor should any woman passing through be treated to a soft pat on the head like a first-grader visiting the fire station.
Not needing anyone to stand up for them, some of the industry's leading women took to social media to bust the "man's world of sports" wide open.
The exchange between Newton and Rodrigue set off a firestorm of inspiring responses. Reporters and other sports personalities shared what they thought was "funny."
Just finished today's @NFLTotalAccess- for which the producer, sr producer, sr coordinating producer & segment prod… https://t.co/uSLbr2Bj7f— Lindsay Rhodes (@Lindsay Rhodes) 1507163858.0
Just some of the women who make Football their life at the @CFL #funny #diversityisstrength https://t.co/l1OKmz8LaG— Christina Litz (@Christina Litz) 1507197223.0
Ladies - do not feel forced into defending our sports knowledge. This is on Cam Newton - NOT ON US. Unacceptable in 2017 to go back to this— Laura Okmin (@Laura Okmin) 1507153830.0
Newton could have talked about that great pivot route Funchess ran. Or how he beat Butler with a stem. Instead… https://t.co/2yTn8i1dqT— Jenny Vrentas (@Jenny Vrentas) 1507172445.0
Rodrigue herself later elaborated on her feelings in a statement:
Statement from #Panthers beat reporter @JourdanRodrigue on Cam Newton’s comments & response https://t.co/vmffxQ7Jra— Ian Rapoport (@Ian Rapoport) 1507160043.0
This was a thoughtless and ignorant moment for Newton, no doubt. But ESPN writer Mina Kimes made an important point for everyone criticizing him right now.
She pointed out that Newton often gets attacked for things that are unfair and frequently racially motivated: like for being too loud and charismatic or for dressing like a "thug."
Two wrongs, she said in essence, don't make a right.
1. Cam said a stupid thing that deserves to be criticized 2. Much of the *other* criticism he gets is dumb/coded 👏both👏things👏can👏be👏true👏— Mina Kimes (@Mina Kimes) 1507212774.0
And as for Newton, a statement from the Panthers noted that he was regretful over his handling of the question, though Rodrigue claims she never received an apology.
Either way, here's hoping Newton has learned his lesson and has gained some respect for the female journalists who cover sports.
They certainly won't be going anywhere anytime soon.